Anna Lopez is our office manager and we often call her the “momma” of the West Nashville Dream Center. She also helps manage our food ministry during the week. Every member of her family plays a role here, husband Ricky helping with maintenance as needed (and getting a kick out of picking on the staff), Santana is a Student Ministry volunteer and Cheyenne is the resident babysitter. Alex is in the Student Ministry and serves when his momma asks. This is her West Nashville Dream Center story.
When asked to describe why she is part of the dream, Anna first said, “This is very hard for me.” Asking Anna to describe things about herself IS hard for her because she lives to serve others. She doesn’t desire accolades or attention. When someone is in crisis, her first response is, “What can I do to help?”
Pastor Ryan first met Anna and her family through a Serve the City project with Cross Point Church. Her neighbors had asked Cross Point to help them with some housing projects when they were going through a tough season. Anna started attending Cross Point after that and served in the cafe on Sundays.
“I always loved the work and passion that Pastor Ryan did in the community with Cross Point. I wanted to be part of that work and serve others too. I have lived in this community my whole life, so it is home. I attended Sylvan Park Elementary, Bass Middle, and Pearl Cohn High School. I now live in my childhood home that sits in Sylvan Park. A lot has changed, but a lot is still the same.”
Back then there were no high rise condos or restaurants popping up daily. But there were a lot of dividing lines in the community as a whole.
“Charlotte Ave has always been a dividing point. The railroad tracks behind our center divided gang activity from drug activity. It reminded me of West Side Story.”
Today, those railroad tracks separate the fast-growing Nations neighborhood from the Preston Taylor housing community and it’s neighboring blocks that we serve. We call our neighborhoods the forgotten corner of Nashville because many people do not realize so many families live here. They’ve been forgotten for many years.
Anna was excited about the plans to open the West Nashville Dream Center back in 2013. What better way to help strengthen her community!
“When the West Nashville Dream Center was set to open, I kept calling Pastor Ryan and asking what I could do to help. I wanted to serve my own community. He never called, so I just showed up and started answering the phone.”
“And I never left.”
It could have been one of Ryan’s biggest mistakes if Anna had never decided to just show up. Anna is the first face you see when you come to our center. She is known to cry in empathy for people’s stories and is a Mary servant, no Martha traits can be found. She cooks meals for our moms and kids, planning out the menu for the week and equips others to cook meals as well.
“I kept coming back to the West Nashville Dream Center because I felt so at home here. I have grown to feel like I have a purpose through serving and now being on staff here. It helped me find my passion for helping.”
There are so many reasons why Anna is part of the dream, but Anna has discovered a unique passion for the people she has met here.
“I have a passion to see people overcome obstacles due to their education or lack thereof. My husband struggles with reading and I’ve seen the limits that has put on what he is truly capable of. Many people have looked down on him.”
So, Anna has been known to sit and read with adults here at our center and has recently found a love for Cockrill Elementary, our Pencil Partner, while attending their Literacy Nights. She helps provide a meal for the families and stays to help the parents. She is amazed that some of these parents are not only learning how to read, but they are learning to speak English as well. They work so hard for themselves and their children.
We are so thankful for you Anna. Thanks for living out what it means to be part of the dream.